Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Is Anybody Listening?

Talking about the growing, or rather alarming, number of Syrians that have sought refuge in Lebanon since 2012 is very tricky. There is a very fine line between the humanitarian aspect of the issue and racism and intolerance, from a population that should know more than anyone else, the meaning of war and the pain of having to leave one’s home behind.

However, what if we are faced with something like this, a recently published UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) map, plotting the distribution of Syrian refugees throughout Lebanon.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon UNHCR

This isn’t about racism or intolerance anymore, but a reality that is simply unsustainable with the potential to erode the very social fabric of Lebanon. Some Lebanese towns are even purported to have more Syrian inhabitants than Lebanese!

Look at it how you will, even the most humanitarian will realize that, with the severe limitations to what the Lebanese Government can offer and the international community’s insufficient assistance to date, hosting more Syrians may even be detrimental. For what more can Lebanon offer to these refugees, when it can’t even provide for those that are already here and, more importantly, its own population to begin with.

Once again, this isn’t about pro-regime or anti-regime, racism or intolerance, but about facing the facts of the way the Syrian crisis has come to bear on its neighbors, and first and foremost on Lebanon. The war in Syria doesn’t appear likely to end anytime soon. The refugee crisis will worsen, and what will happen to Lebanon then? Such unprecedented reality calls for unprecedented measures, at a time when the Lebanese government is partly doing what it can, partly busy with medieval political wrangling that border on the criminal in view of the crisis at hand. The rest of the world, in the meantime, continues to commend Lebanon for extending its open arms to these desperate refugees, which is not nearly enough to provide them with a decent shelter or schooling for their children, the lost generation of Syria…

I look at this map with fear, pain and despair. Fear in thought of how worse the situation can become. Pain for the refugees and their dire situation. Despair at knowing that not enough is being done to assist the refugees, nor to bringing an end to the fighting in Syria, nor towards supporting the Lebanese that are helping the refugees. I believe it is despair more than anything else that I feel…

Is somebody out there? Is anybody listening?

19 Replies to “Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Is Anybody Listening?”

  1. Your despair and pessimism is dwarfed next to the despair of the million refugees who left their homes behind and sought a new life, temporary for most of them, against all hardships. Their despair is real. Your despair is dwarfed next to the hope of millions of people, Syrians and Lebanese, that the war will end sometime soon, that refugees will find back the land and people they were forced to leave behind, and that a better future is in reserve for everyone if we can treat our neighbors just like we would’ve liked them to treat us in case our home takes fire and our families are murdered. And their hope is as real as their despair, and so is our hope. So far, though it comes as a big communal struggle for both Lebanese and Syrians to leave our doors open, there seems to be no alternative to hosting our neighbors in their despair. Closing our doors will inevitably lead to the death of countless Syrian war victims. And in your pessimism, which to be fair bares substantial realism, there are no suggestions of an alternative but to protect yourself from your own fear, pain and despair rather than help out your neighbors from their REAL fear, pain and despair. In Edmund Burke’s words, “all that is necessary for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing”.

    I agree with you that our situation is not sustainable on the long-term. So far it doesn’t seem to be critically out of balance. Supplies and resources are somewhat managed, at least for the mere survival of everyone if not for their comfort, and I don’t see Lebanese people getting poorer or hungrier because of the situation. In fact, we still see new buildings erect on a daily basis and hear of new businesses prospering, maybe thanks to the population increase and maybe not. What we have done so far is more than just a national humanitarian act. We have saved lives and offered shelter, food, jobs, clothes and all kind of commodities to Syrian refugees to the best of our ability. This is something to look at positively: no matter how unfortunate the circumstances, and against all odds in a country that barely sustains itself with its own people, many of us chose to hold on to their selfless compassionate nature and to make the world a better place.

    1. employment is directly severely affected -regardless of the fact you don’t see Lebanese people getting poorer or hungrier

    2. We do see the despair and need for the Syrian people to flee their homes, and we respect that having lived through similar situations.
      However, we need to be mindful of the economic impact of such high numbers of Syrian refugees and the increased unemployment of the lower class in Lebanon, against which these refugees compete head to head for employment.
      You’re right, maybe the rich are still going ahead with plans, and maybe benefiting from the increase in population, it’s the poor that are suffering, and those my friend, you failed to see.
      If you want to talk humanitarian, we can.
      With more influx of Syrian refugees, the local economy will fail to support Lebanese residents and the refugees. There is a tipping point, and when we get to it the entire system will collapse. Then who would benefit? everyone will be out on the street and the situation will be worse for Lebanese and Syrians alike.
      At that point, an increase in crime rate, and terrorism will worsen the situation, and you find yourself in a war situation at home, and you find yourself importing someone else’s problems on your own soil.
      We’re not saying to deport all refugees, we’re saying to keep the situation under control, and to stop future influx, to maintain some sort of balance (although distorted, but at least not broken)
      Lebanon is not the only neighboring country, international pressure should be exerted on Turkey and Jordan to receive more refugees, if the international community is honest about their claims.

  2. Quotting

    “بدل ان تحاور الدولة اللبنانية الدولة السورية وحتى افرقاء المعارضة للحدّ من نزوح السوريين الى لبنان.. أخبأت الدولة اللبنانية رأسها بالرمال وتركت الأمور على حالها، واليكم النتيجة:

    – 131 ألف ولادة سورية عام 2013 مقابل 72 ألف ولادة لبنانية!!

    وحتى لا يفسرون كل كلمة أننا عنصريين.. نقول كما الشاعر السوري/ اللبناني نزار قباني “في مجتمعنا، يرون أن إنجاب ذكر أمل والانثى خيبة !! رغم أن حلم كل ذكر أنثى , وخيبة كل أنثى رجل ….”

    These people seem to very irresponsible the never seeem to stop reproducing even in war time.

  3. Yes I am listening. Part of these refugees are my family in KermEl Zeitoun. Bring back flashes of the 1970s حوادث. Who can forget that

  4. Reblogged this on Eliane Fersan and commented:
    The International Community, the US, EU and the UN command Lebanon for being cooperative and receiving more Syrian Refugees while allies of the EU and the US such as Jordan and Turkey have taken a clear position towards closing their borders in consideration of their national security and incapacity of managing the what we know now is going to be a long crisis with no ends or solutions any time soon.
    Yes Lebanon is commanded for be collaborative, but in reality it is commanded for being weak and unable to take a firm position toward a crisis that should be the responsibility of the International Community and not just that of the 4 million Lebanese.
    If the international Community is REALLY concerned about the Syrian Refugees safety and security, they have two options: either provide them with the needed 400 million dollars monthly to ensure their bare survival in Lebanon or host them in their own countries. But to push Lebanon to receive more refugees and to refrain from providing them with support, then accuse Lebanese of xenophobia and racism is pure hypocrisy!

  5. Also one must not be naive , you must realise that most of these refugees are economical refugees not war refugees, they seek work in lebanon not amnesty

  6. I have never liked Syria who invaded my country , destroyed it and spoiled it . And now I hate this country more than ever.
    Hope someday Lebanon And Israel will develop strong political and economical relationship. I, for my part, prefer establishing strong links with a strong country rather than be under the control of a devastated, poor , miserable and retarded country like Syria . Israel is an enemy ? Israel doesn’t recognize the existence of Lebanon ? So what … Syria isn’t an enemy ? Does Syria recognize the existence of Lebanon. In truth , between Syria and Israel, the most , and by far, dangerous of the two is Syria . There is nothing more dangerous than an enemy who claim being one’s elder brother of sister .

    1. You misinformed biggot. Don’t blame others for the destruction of our own country when our irresponsible governors are to blame. Syria’s refugees have neither invaded our country, destroyed it or spoiled it. Sure there are less menial jobs, but were you seriously hoping to score a menial job you cocky idiot? I’m not a fool, there’s no denying the increase in Syrian refugees threatens our demographic. But I also know that making more enemies wouldn’t exactly help our current situation. Stop acting smart. You “would prefer establishing strong links with a strong country” like Israel? There’s no denying you’re living in some kind of dream. It’s because of dreamers like you our country has changed the way it has.

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